Interesting new IBM Cell chip



IBM Unsheathes New Cell Blade
Earlier today IBM announced the new BladeCenter QS22, a new blade server that incorporates the latest Cell processor, the PowerXCell 8i. While the new name might not exactly roll off your tongue, IBM has managed to address one of the Cell's major technical shortcomings (at least for the HPC crowd), namely much better double precision floating point performance.

Big Blue claims the PowerXCell 8i achieves nearly 109 double precision (DP) gigaflops. That's on par with the 102 DP gigaflops provided by AMD's FireStream 9170 GPU and is five times the DP floating point performance of the older Cell generation that inhabits PlayStation3 consoles. Since the QS22 packs two new Cell processors together, each blade delivers 217 gigaflops, which means a BladeCenter chassis will provide a whopping 3 teraflops if fully populated with QS22s. Memory capacity has been pumped up considerably too, thanks to moving from Rambus to DDR2. Up to 16 GB per processor is now supported (versus 1 GB on the previous generation).

The QS22 hardware will end up in the third phase of the "Roadrunner" supercomputer installation at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Each compute node in the Roadrunner cluster is made up of two dual-core Opteron dual-core processors and four Cell processors. The final result will be a petaflop machine that is capable of some of the most advanced nuclear weapons simulation work done under the direction of the National Nuclear Security Administration.

For those of you not maintaining nuclear weapons (most of you I hope), the QS22 can also be applied to more mundane tasks. Because of the additional double precision performance and greatly expanded memory capacity, the QS22 blade is theoretically much better positioned for mainstream HPC duty than its QS21 progenitor. IBM is aiming the new blades at the usual HPC markets: digital content creation, electronic design automation, image and signal processing, financial analytics, scientific research, seismic processing, etc.

To get the software ecosystem in sync, IBM is also releasing a new software development kit (SDK) for the QS22 to ease code development and porting. I wouldn't be surprised if RapidMind announced support for the new Cell hardware in short order. As with almost any new computational hardware, a decent software development platform will be crucial to its success. Time will tell if IBM has put together the right package to attract conventional HPC users. The QS22 will be available in early June, while the SDK is available now.


Be nice to see that in the PS3 !


Active Member
PS4 maybe......

I think the next iteration (around 2010, 2 PPEs and 32 SPEs) might be more appropriate, but even then it feels to early for the PS4!


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Well-known Member
I don't think 5x the double precision floating point performance would be anything like as useful as an extra SPE or two :D

I can't see the PS4 chip being much different to the PS3 Cell except with some of the SPE limitations lifted - and a whole bunch more of them :smashin:


Active Member
IBM Unsheathes New Cell Blade
Be nice to see that in the PS3 !

actually, you probably wouldn't even notice the difference :D DP performance doesn't really matter all that much for games.. what we need is more SP performance!

what we could use though, is the new memory interface and the lots more memory.. if you see the prices DDR2 is going at now, you really hope they executed the knobheads who put 512mb of RAMBUS in the PS3 :suicide:


Distinguished Member
what we could use though, is the new memory interface and the lots more memory.. if you see the prices DDR2 is going at now, you really hope they executed the knobheads who put 512mb of RAMBUS in the PS3 :suicide:

couldnt agree more, what idiot thought 512, could they not have put at least 1gb in there just for futureproofing at least, would love for an intelligent someone out there to strip their ps3 down and find a way to replace the existing ram, assuming it is a consumer friendly ram type. Doubt it will ever happen though.

Wonder what the ps4 will be running, personally i dont think it will be much more than the equivalent of an nvidia 8800 and 1gb ram but then I guess numbers arent everything it depends how well they're used.

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